Boxelder Bugs & Me

I was thinking about writing a Very Serious blog post today, but then I decided to take pictures of bugs instead.

Sometimes, life can be a little too serious and you just want to do some investigative journalism into the lives of boxelder bugs.

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[Image: white stripey plastic with a small red-and-black boxelder bug on it. Wood, part of a white scooter board, and a dried up leave on the bottom].

This was the first boxelder bug I took a picture of. We didn’t really get a chance to chat. It had a meeting to get to, a Very Serious business-style business meeting.

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[Image: Tiny, bright red boxelder bug on concrete near a dead wasp].

This was the second boxelder bug I took a picture of. It is near a dead wasp. Apparently, they did not know each other. It’s going through puberty right now, but it’s mostly okay. It was going to try out for the basketball team and I don’t know if it got on yet or not. The results won’t come out until next week.

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[Image: Concrete, dried leaves, and a cluster of boxelder bugs].

This is a cluster of boxelder bugs having a house warming party under their new leaf. I technically crashed it, but they were friendly enough once I made it clear that I wasn’t with the paparazzi.

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[Image: dried leaves, cluster of boxelder bugs on a grey piece of foam].

This is just a ton of boxelder bugs on a foam thing. They were trying to organize a rave but their DJ bailed last minute. A few of them went off in search of someone with decent beatboxing skills.

Get it?

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[Image: boxelder bug on concrete spreading its wings. Small green plants in the bottom corner].

This boxelder bug always dreamed of flying. It believes it will get there one day. It wasn’t too chatty, as it was focused on the task at hand.

My friend had mentioned seeing a large gathering of boxelder bugs on the street, which I went looking for, but sadly, was unable to find. I decided to walk to the theatre and take myself to a movie instead to make up for the disappointment I felt during this difficult time.

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[Image: Part of a blue-and-white ad for a Broker. A photo of said Broker with the thought bubble “THINK “BINK”!” next to them. More lettering and numbers designating contact information. Grass to the right side].

This is not a boxelder bug but it was certainly worth documenting.

Remember, friends, to always think bink.

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[Image: Part of a disposable cup advertising Coke, which reads, “Chillin’ Like a Villian” in red letters on black, sitting in a black cupholder next to red woven seat fabric].

This was part of my drink and seat at the theatre. It reminded me of boxelder bugs. This was both sad and nice in a bittersweet way.

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[Image: Close up of a small brown beetle on the sidewalk].

This is not a boxelder bug but it was a bug I saw on my way home.

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[Image: Top is mostly black. Near the middle, four lit windows shine into the night. There is a cat in the second to the right. Part of the house, sidewalk, and road are visible, though darkened and grainy].

This is a cat in the window of a very well lit room. It appears to be watching and waiting, but appearances can be deceiving. It waits for no one. It watches for no one. This is a cat who is beyond understanding.

(This is a cat. This is not a cat. This is text on a computer screen).

I saw Suicide Squad at the theatre. The plot wasn’t very strong but I absolutely loved Harley Quinn. I can see why (some) fans love it but (many) movie critics don’t. I definitely want to see a whole Harley-based movie in the future!

I also had a lovely evening. I hope you did too.

I encourage you to send me pictures of boxelder bugs if you have them.

My Ever Changing Relationship with Reading

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[Image: pair of leopard print glasses sitting on top of an open dictionary. Yellow tones]. Source: morguefile.com.
I mentioned the other week that I was writing an essay on my changing reading practices. It’s been graded now, which means I can share it with all of you!

I was homeschooled during my elementary and middle-school years. I did not own a cellphone. I did own a computer, but my internet connection based on dial-up was very slow. I had a lot of free time on my hands outside of my coursework, which I spent most of on reading. I had another friend who was homeschooled and we used to keep lists of how many books we had read in the year with the goal of making the number as high as possible, forming a small reading community together. We were also a little competitive. I always wanted to be at least a couple books ahead of her, as well as compete with myself in previous years. My fourteenth year, as we kept track based on age, was when I read over sixty books. I spent many hours each day reading, in my bedroom, the library, or my grandparent’s boathouse on the river, my favourite location. My favourite genres were horror, science fiction, and fantasy, mostly of the young adult variety. I think I was drawn to these genres because of the escapism they offered, similar to how some are drawn to Harlequin romance (Woodruff).

I was determined to read everything Stephen King had ever written. I had originally picked up one of his paperbacks in a Floridian condo, Bag of Bones, while on vacation with my family and was hooked from there on out. At that age, horror movies were forbidden to me by my mother, but she did not seem too concerned about the books. King’s works allowed me to escape into strange and frightening worlds, worlds written for adults, that made my skin crawl and kept me riveted. They provided a welcome distraction from my own life, which could, at times, be lonely and boring as a homeschooled kid.

When I went to high-school my relationship with books shifted. I made friends, was out of the house five days a week, and came back with plenty of homework to keep me occupied. I read less, though I didn’t quit reading entirely. I was always surprised when teachers gave us a month or two to get through one book. That was more than enough time for me, given my previous habits. During this period, I had less time for reading and less of a need for escape because I was engaging with my own life more. I had a crush on one of my classmates and he asked me out on a date. I had more friends than I knew what to do with. I was being challenged by the rigorous academic program I had applied for. My own life became just as, if not more, interesting to me than the young adult novels and the King classics that I had loved. I did not need them as much as I once did.

I did not own a cellphone until the summer after I graduated from high-school. When I did get one, it was a smartphone. This changed my reading practices because I began texting regularly and reading online articles on my phone, accessing new media. Though I still read print-based books, the advent of the smartphone in my life meant that I was often distracted from reading. For example, I might receive a text message or other notification on my phone while trying to read, interrupting the activity. I was also drawn in by the appeal of this new device in my life, often spending time using its apps or reading articles on its web browser rather than physical books. This new technological shift in the microcosm of my life became a distraction from the formerly solitary, uninterrupted practice of reading.

In the year after I graduated from high-school, I went backpacking through Europe. This was why I had purchased the smartphone, in order to stay connected with my family back home. I brought two travel guides and one of my favourite novels with me. The novel was very short and something I could read in one sitting, which I did a few times during the quiet moments while traveling. I also picked up another book for free at a lending library in one of the hostels I stayed in. Though I did not read very much, reading was a great way to wind down during the trip, which could at times be overstimulating and stressful. Most of my reading during this time, however, was functional. I read sections of the travel guides, maps, signs, and articles on my phone recommending certain destinations or activities. Reading became something I relied on to help me get around, find accommodation, and plan activities. I also encountered language barriers in many of the countries I spent time in, finding it very difficult to travel in places where I could not understand the signs, maps, or other texts.

My reading practices changed again when I began attending university. Within that first year, I was assigned more readings than I could handle. I had to learn how to skim. I had to learn which out of my assigned readings were important and which were not. I began reading summaries of texts online if I could not get through them before lectures. This was all very challenging for me, as I wanted to be able to read everything and get as much out of the assigned texts as possible. I simply did not have the time or energy for this, however, as there was so much that it was impossible to get through it all. Reading in university consumed most of my time but, unlike when I was younger, it was not for pleasure. I did my reading for my classes. I made schedules. I took notes. I examined texts through the specific frameworks taught in my classes, looking for specific motifs or themes which my professors had drawn my attention to. I developed eye-strain from focusing on small text for so long. I also developed a new relationship with reading, one which felt like more of a chore than a fun pastime.

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[Image: Pages of a yellowed-book caught in the motion of falling, shot from the side. Green background]. Source: morguefile.com.

I did still try to read for pleasure outside of my classes, though I was not often able to get very far. Reading for fun felt like a waste of time and energy when I could be doing assigned readings instead. I found it difficult to motivate myself to do it. I began, instead, to seek a more instant gratification in my leisure time. I began watching television and movies far more than I had before. It required less mental energy or engagement to watch an hour of television than it did to read a novel for the same amount of time. This kind of screen time slowly began to replace the time I had previously devoted to reading for pleasure, an activity I was indulging in less and less over the years.

Technology had also been changing. In university, I had a powerful enough computer and a fast enough Internet connection to have access to a wide variety of shows and movies online. My mother started a subscription to Netflix, an online video streaming service, which she shared with me. Netflix is designed to encourage the activity of “binge watching,” where one spends many consecutive hours watching TV shows or movies. When the viewer finishes an episode of a show, for example, the next episode begins counting down automatically and, if the viewer does not close Netflix, will play within fifteen seconds. The advent of Netflix, its wide selection and prompt to keep watching longer than I may have otherwise, certainly had an effect on my reading practices. As a student, I never would have paid for cable, but I certainly paid for an Internet connection, which was both necessary for school and entertainment. Netflix made it easier than ever to choose watching over reading, given its accessibility. Given how tired I was of reading for school, I leapt at this new opportunity. Online video streaming in addition to a smartphone certainly interrupted and diminished the practice of reading for pleasure. It felt like supersession was taking place during this time, with newer technology, such as smartphones and Netflix, replacing older technology, like print-based books, for entertainment purposes (Finkelstein and McCleery 121).

Six months ago, I created a YouTube channel and began devoting a significant amount of time to making one or more videos every week, watching videos, and connecting with other YouTubers online. I now spend less time on Netflix and more time on YouTube, whether it be as a creator or as a viewer. This has also affected my reading practices. In addition to doing readings for school, I read articles online as research for some of my videos. I am also far more active on social media than I have ever been, as I run several social media accounts which are connected to my YouTube channel. I read Tweets, posts on Tumblr, Facebook pages, blogs connected to some of the channels I follow, captions for Instagram photos, and anything else relevant to the content that I create. I even created an account on GoodReads, a website where readers can share what they are reading, book recommendations, and book reviews. On this website, I set a goal to read twenty books this year and every time I finish a book, I plug it into GoodReads and the number goes up. This website, an extension of my other social media accounts, does help to motivate me to keep reading in order to reach my goal.

There are also some YouTubers, called BookTubers, who read and review books in their videos, forming an online reading community. I have gotten several good recommendations from these kinds of channels. One person I follow recommended several audiobooks, which I have found to be a great way to read on the go. I can listen to these books on my smartphone while walking to work or cleaning the house. My phone does not just interfere with my reading practices these days, it can also facilitate them, depending on how I choose to use it.

It was through certain BookTubers that I have rediscovered young adult fantasy and science fiction. After growing older and falling out of the young adult range, I felt like I had to read works written for more mature audiences. In university especially, I was taught to value the classics or great works of literature from the canon. This was a form of gatekeeping, where in an act of elitism the academic institution taught me to value certain literary texts over others (Finkelstein and McCleery 99). I began thinking that reading always had to be a serious activity which developed and expanded the mind, meaning that I always had to read works that challenged me. It was through listening to certain BookTubers discuss their own reading practices that I realized this was not true. Many of them were adults who confessed their love for young adult fiction. They talked about the stigma around adults reading such “lowly” genres as science fiction and fantasy written for adolescents. They talked about why they loved it anyway, how it had freed them as readers and allowed them to escape into whole other worlds. They talked about the valuable lessons to be had in such works, which were often coming of age stories with many life lessons to share. It was through listening to such people that I was able to reconnect with my adolescent self who had adored these kinds of texts. Most recently, I have been reading a four-book fantasy series where the two main protagonists are sixteen. I am not ashamed of it, and am genuinely enjoying the experience of reading once again. Pursuing young adult fiction has helped me re-learn how to read for pleasure again instead of just for school, and it was online video, interestingly enough, that helped to get me here.

Though it is nearly impossible to accurately predict future societal and technological shifts, I do like to speculate on the future of my reading practices. Within a few months, I will graduate from university and will no longer be assigned readings in school. Though I do not know what kind of job I will have and how that will affect my reading practices, I expect I will be more interested in reading for pleasure once I do not have academic readings. I hope to continue to find new ways to incorporate reading into my life which accommodate the changing technology around me as well as my own needs. I would like to keep pursuing audiobooks, as I have found them to be an excellent way to read while on the go. I own a tablet which I barely use at this point in time, which I would like to begin reading e-books on at night, as it is well-designed for a person to lay in bed and read from with ease. I hope to find ways to mute distractions while reading so that I may focus on engaging with the text at hand. Essentially, I would like to read more. In order to do so, I need to acknowledge what is standing in the way of that pursuit and find ways to work around it. I find that newer technology, such as of Netflix and smartphones, are hindering my reading practices, so far as the reading of traditional books is concerned, and I would like to utilize technology to help them instead. Perhaps I need to make the books I own more accessible and engaging than they currently are in their print form. Perhaps this means downloading audio and e-books to keep up with the new ways in which my brain is processing information through the use of technology. I do not want to buy into technological determinism, thinking that changing technology must drive my and other’s reading practices, changing the nature of reading communities and societal approaches to reading, leading us into thinking “that the book is an obsolete medium” (Finkelstein and McCleery 120). We control technology, it does not control us, and we can find ways to use it which enhance our current reading practices. Regardless of smartphones and Netflix, books still have a lot to offer.

In conclusion, technological shifts and changes in lifestyle have affected my reading practices over the years. Phones and computers, with their access to the Internet, have come to replace books in many ways, demonstrating a kind of supersession. Heavy reading assignments have changed how I have approached reading and reduced the time I spend reading for pleasure. Though it has previously gotten in the way of my reading, I have recently been learning how to use changing technology to advance my reading practices through the use of audio and e-books. I have revisited the kinds of texts I enjoyed as a teenager in order to bring the fun back into reading, letting go of the notion that reading must be a serious, academic pursuit. Overall, just as the macrocosm of society has experienced technological shifts and changes to reading practices, I have experienced these things individually on the micro-level. I will always be a reader, and my hope for the future is that I will find ways to utilize changing technology to read more rather than less, a hope I have for others as well.

Works Cited

Finkelstein, David, and Alistair McCleery. An Introduction to Book History. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print

Woodruff, Juliette. “A Spate of Words, Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing: Or, How to Read in Harlequin.” Journal of Popular Culture 19.2 (Fall 1985): 25-32. Web.

When Things Don’t Go Your Way

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[Image: Sage, a white non-binary person with messy, short hair, looks at the camera with a serious expression. They are wearing a brown shirt. The whole image has yellow tones and is rather faded].

Let me tell you a story.

 

I came back from the woods yesterday feeling like I had a lot to do. I need to write my exams, polish off this round of courses, and sign up for new ones this month. I need to deal with many layers of bureaucracy to make sure all of this goes smoothly. I also need to finish papers and begin studying for exams. I came back from the woods and suddenly, August was upon me. The pace picked up and deadlines loomed.

I came back from the woods yesterday but my Mac charger did not. I came back with less than 55% battery power.

Did you know these chargers cost $100? I didn’t know that until today. Obviously, I did not buy one.

Instead, I had to wait for my mother to get home from work so I could drive us back out to the woods to get it. It was a two-hour round trip. Not too bad, but substantial.

And, of course, I couldn’t write e-mails, book exams, polish off essays, or review course materials for my online courses.

Last night, when I went to plug in my charger and realized it wasn’t there, I panicked a little bit. This threw a wrench in my plans for today. I was so worked up about it, and about how much I felt like I had to do, that I had difficulty sleeping. I’d drift off only to wake up twenty minutes later from stress dreams about buying knock-off chargers (which I think aren’t a thing for Macbooks) and calling my local college to arrange my exams, only to be told that they were all booked up for the next three months. Nights like these are hard. I manage to calm myself down while I’m awake, relax, and fall asleep, but then my unconscious brain goes right back to the anxiety. I half-wake up thinking that everything is the worst, that there’s no way I’ll figure a way out of this situation, and then have to do the work of calming back down again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Nights like these are hard. I manage to calm myself down while I’m awake, relax, and fall asleep, but then my unconscious brain goes right back to everything that’s making me anxious. I half-wake up thinking that everything is the worst, that there’s no way I’ll figure a way out of this situation, and then I have to do the work of calming back down all over again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Today, however, I just had to let go. In the morning, I walked over to the store to check the prices on chargers. That confirmed for me that I had to let go. What else could I do?

I showered. I filmed a video. I read. I watched Stranger Things. I cooked dinner. Then, I drove my mother and I out to the woodsland for the charger, which I have since given a strict talking to. It now understands that wherever my computer goes, it follows.

At least I got more driving practice in. Clearly, I was supposed to.

We can make all kinds of plans. We can feel comfortable and in control. Then, suddenly, something goes wrong and we feel betrayed by the universe somehow, like something is conspiring against us. At least, I know I feel that way whenever these kinds of things happen.

How could I have done that? I kept asking myself. How could I forget the charger for something that’s so essential for my work?

Well, I did, and it was fine. My plans had to change and I ended up having a far more relaxed day than I would have otherwise. And at the end of the day, maybe it was for the best.

I plan to sleep well tonight. I suppose we’ll see how that goes.

Whoops, It’s Tuesday!

 

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[Image: Sage, a white non-binary person in a blue-and-pink wig with bangs, presses their lips together and makes a face at the camera, tilting their head to the left. They are wearing a sleeveless shirt with a green-and-pink flower pattern. There is a paint-splattered painting, part of a wooden cabinet, and a purple wall behind them].
I completely blanked on the Monday post this week. I spent the weekend with my friend in York and ended up taking a mental health day Monday because of a panic attack in the morning. I have a video coming out on the NFi Collab Channel this Thursday which goes into more detail about that.

I’m so close to being finished with this round of courses, my friends! Unfortunately, however, at this point I’m having a lot of trouble focusing. The closer I get to being done, the less I feel inclined to put in the time.

I made the decision last week to focus on putting out a video every Thursday rather than have a more random schedule where I make videos every 3-4 days. It’s not that I want to be making fewer videos, it’s just that I’m more interested in making high-quality content without getting overwhelmed. Apparently, without a schedule, instead of never making videos, I make TOO MANY videos. I get ahead of myself and feel pressured into starting another video the moment I’ve finished working on one. I worry that this results in making more, lower quality content as I spend less time researching, writing, filming, and editing if I feel the pressure to have it all done in a few days.

There must be a happy medium!

So, at this point, I’m focusing on putting out one video every Thursday. That doesn’t mean there will not be extras, however, as this week I’m making a video for my own channel as well as another for NFi. It’s just to keep me on a more reasonable track.

In case you were wondering, yes, I am playing Pokemon Go. I am almost level 9 now. I hatched a Pikachu today.

I’m not working on my book as much as I’d like to be. It keeps falling to the bottom of my list of priorities, to the end of the day when I’m too tired. There are just so many other things! I’m also not too sure about the direction I’m going in with it. Books are hard, friends. Books are hard.

I just started writing a report on the history of my reading practices. It’s actually quite fun and interesting, given that it’s a school project. I want to share some of it here, but I’ll have to wait until it’s been graded and handed back so my tutor doesn’t think it’s been plagiarized. You’ve got to watch out for that kind of thing.

Filmed a video where I read from the journal I kept while backpacking through Europe yesterday. I have OVER AN HOUR of footage where I just read the entries from England. It may be a series. It was interesting to go back in time five years to that trip, as this is my first read-over. I think I tend to romanticize it, as we do with the past and with traveling, but reading the journal reminded me that not all was sunshine and roses. I struggled with a number of things, from growing up to stressing over booking trains to not feeling confident in social situations. I even wrote that I was hoping the trip would completely change me as a person, making me more confident and bold! Poor baby Sage…

In terms of the topic of friendship, I realized recently that it’s really important for friendships to unfold naturally. Also, that I can be happy with just a small handful of friends. I’ve been trying to make certain friendships happen within the past few years that just have not. And I’ve been really easily, naturally finding friendships through my YouTube pursuits. So, I’m learning, though it is important put in an effort, you also just have to let friends happen and not try to make anything into what it’s not. Having something to bond over helps too.

Okay, so this blog post was all over the place. I suppose this is a pretty good representative of where my brain is at this week. These are the things!

Have a wonderful week, catch ’em all, and I will see you all again very soon.

P.S. My wig came in the mail and it is everything I’ve ever wanted.

Sometimes I Regret Going to University

 

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[Image: Part of a modern, open library. Bookshelves to the left. Computers and desks to the right. Floors, walls, and ceilings are all white]. Source: morguefile.com.

I understand that a post-secondary education is a privilege. I know that I have learned and grown through mine in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. However, I don’t like the way university is pushed on young kids as the only real option for their futures. I don’t like that you’re allowed to get in all kinds of debt before you really understand what that means. I also just get into a funk about it sometimes, as I’ve done over four years already and am still trying to finish. This is a product of that.

I’m 23-years-old and I’m done with the whole academic thing.

I think we spend too much time in school. Sure, it’s important to get an education, but I’m not always sure that school gives you one. It… depends.

I’m 23-years-old and I’m done with being a student, thanks. I’ll take my degree, please.

Only, I can’t. After this round of courses, I’ll still have another semester to go.

Most people don’t finish their degrees in four years. Some, like myself, take four-and-a-half. Some take five. Some take more. Either way, it’s a long time, especially given the fact that most of us have been in school since the age of six.

If I’m being honest, I wish I’d gone to college. Two years, in and out. A practical diploma. Career prospects. Maybe it’s because I haven’t graduated yet and the impending monthly loan payments are scaring me.

Maybe it’ll all be fine. Maybe it’s good that I went to university. Right now, though, I kind of regret it. When all of this began, I was a pretty young thing who didn’t quite know what they were getting themselves into.

I took a year off. Maybe I should have taken more.

Too late now. This is what it is. This is my life and I have to live it. I have to deal with where I am now. Still finishing my degree. Still finishing it…

I used to be excited about school. It was a passion. When asked to describe myself, “student” was near the top of the list.

It’s different now. I’m different now. But I’m still living the life a much younger me wanted.

I saw my minimum monthly payment a couple weeks ago. After graduating, I’ll have six months to secure stability and start paying it. I cried. Hard.

I know it’s not impossible, that people do it, but at this point, it doesn’t seem manageable. At this point, I don’t have a job, an apartment, an income, a budget. At this point, I live with my mother and I write a lot of essays.

It will likely be fine. I’ll probably find ways to make it work. But I wish someone had told me, even once, that there were other reasonable options besides university, because no one did. I wish I had known. I don’t know if that would have changed my 18-year-old mind, but at least I would have been aware of what I was getting myself into.

Because really, I didn’t.

But here I am.

I suppose I may need a few years of perspective to really understand the true value of this degree. Maybe I’ll decide it was worth it. Maybe I won’t. We’ll see.

We’ll see.

Driven and Tired, Passionate and Exhausted (Poem)

 

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Dandelion growing out of dry, cracked dirt. Source.

 

Trying to figure out the good life
is giving me messy hair.

Hours, days, months spent on something
which may come to naught.

I’m being consumed by my passion.

I can’t tell if that’s good or bad.

Is my luck really going to change on July 17th?
Is that the day to watch out for?
If so, that’s very soon and I don’t quite
know what to do.

I feel tired.

I may be in need of a break,
to find a pin that will reach
the reset button.

I feel driven sometimes,
and clouded by clutter others.

Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?

I’m on a path,
but to where and
at what cost?

Who is the being that I am becoming?

Shaping, reforming.
Passionate, driven, anxious, exhausted.

What kind of break am I looking for?

Long walks help to clear a cloudy mind.
The only thing which counteracts the clutter I put there.

Unfortunately, I am an artist.
These struggles will always be constant.
How I react may, however, be the thing to change.

My Future on YouTube

 

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Screenshot of the top part of Sage’s YouTube channel, Herb Dino.

 

I launched my Patreon page yesterday. I was very nervous. For some reason, I thought that my asking for support might make people upset or angry. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m painfully aware of the general cultural attitude that we have towards artists, the attitude that says they should not be compensated for their work, and the attitude towards YouTubers, that says they should not earn anything from YouTube because it’s just a hobby and not a job.

But for me, it is a job. I approach it like one. It’s a fun and fulfilling job, that’s for certain, but I pour enough of my time, energy, and love into it that I do consider it to be a job. Actually, it’s sort of more than a job…

I’ve had ideas for other careers before but none have ever stood the test of time. I’ve thought, “I could do this or do that” but never really gotten too excited about it, never really felt like it was exactly right for me. I’ve considered being a forest ranger, freelance writer, actor, published author, librarian, copy editor, and professor. I’d think about each of these things for awhile and then move on to something else, never quite landing on what I wanted to do.

And then I found Kat Blaque.

Kat Blaque is a YouTuber who makes videos on a range of topics from feminism to institutionalized racism to lgbt+ issues. She also creates content for Everyday Feminism, the Huffington Post, and Pride.com. What’s incredible is that, after years of hard work and dedication, she is self-sufficient. Blaque is able to make a living off of her creative and socially conscious work. As I watched her videos, joined some of the live streams on her Facebook page, perused around her store, and went over to her Patreon page, I took in a lot of new information, and not just about social justice issues, but about how to support yourself while pursuing what you’re passionate about.

I remember thinking, almost immediately, “This is what I want to do”. I had no idea where to start or how to make it happen, but I knew that I had found it. This was the thing. I could tell that this was the kind of work that would make me feel creatively and intellectually fulfilled.

I got my brother to help me set up a YouTube channel. I started making videos. Save for some of his advice, I had almost no idea what I was doing. Now, six months later, I have (maybe) half an idea. I’m not “there” yet (what counts as there?), but I’ve learned so much and had a lot of fun doing it. My world has expanded. I’ve met and talked to tons of amazing people. I’ve discovered a new outlet for my creativity. I’ve been inspired by a bunch of fascinating content. I’ve started picking up some of the building blocks on how all of this works.

My channel is still quite small, but six months ago I didn’t even have a channel so that in itself is something. I’m not done here. I’m not slowing down. I feel like I’ve only just gotten started, that this is just the beginning of my creative/career-related/YouTube/online journey.

When I first started my channel, I wasn’t in a great place. I was in a lot of pain and there were a lot of things happening to me that I couldn’t control. I’m in a better place now and things are consistently getting better, but having this outlet really helped me through some of that hard stuff. There were points where YouTube was the only thing I enjoyed spending my time on, the only thing that was making me feel happy or even just okay. And now that things are better, YouTube feels like an old friend that got me through some really tough stuff. Now this friend and I are going to soar together. We are going to pursue our wildest dreams, not because they’re realistic or practical or anything, but because WE CAN.

“I can” is something YouTube has taught me. “I can” and “I deserve”. No longer do I feel like the least talented person in my friend group, the writer who “isn’t any good” at writing, the desperate and repressed creative with little artistic skill, the one who will always be frustrated, or the one who will never be good enough. I still have my doubts sometimes, but I’m on track. I have found my path and sometimes I feel damn proud of what I do. I feel confident in ways I never did before. I think that’s because, until recently, I had never really found “my thing”.

Here it is. This is my thing. I don’t know what it will turn into, but I’m going to hold onto it and keep on going for the ride of my life.

Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would support me on Patreon at this point. I put my video out there worried I may lose subscribers and thinking it would say $0 per month for a very long time. Within 24 hours of my posting it, however, two people pledged.

$4 may not be a lot of money, but it counts. It is something. It counts because it shows me that other people believe in my too. It counts because it shows me that I was not wrong to ask for help. It counts because it raises my YouTube-based income from almost nothing to $4, and that is growth. However small it may be, it is growth and all growth counts.

I want to thank the two of you who chose to become my patrons. It means a lot. It has reaffirmed for me that this is the right path and that it’s not all just some idealistic, unattainable dream.

I also want to thank everyone who’s ever watched, liked, or commented on my videos or the other things I’ve put out online. As a small creator especially, all of that feedback and support really counts. I’ve had comments before that have put a small on my face for a whole day. I’ve had comments that have sent home the “Yes! That’s why I’m doing this” message.

I cannot predict the future. I cannot see where all of this is going to lead exactly, but it’s going to lead somewhere. That much I am sure of.

Thank-you for believing in me.

Adult Friendships & Unhealthy Friendships

 

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[Image: Sunset over mountainous terrain. Small silhouettes of two people sitting by the water. Most of the bottom of the image (the beach) is shrouded in darkness]. Source: morguefile.com.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship. I’ve been trying to figure out what it means to me now. That might seem like a funny question, but I think it’s worth asking.

Friendships change from childhood to adulthood. When you’re younger and in school, you’re often automatically friends with the people you see every day. You may form friendships in little groups and then be friends with all the members of that group because they are there, not because you necessarily like them. You may be friends with people you don’t particularly like because your friends are friends with them.

As an adult, however, you seem to have more of a choice. You can be more selective. You’re no longer bound to people who you have little else but school in common with. You know yourself a little better. Hopefully, you’re better at identifying toxic relationships or knowing when you simply don’t want to be friends with someone.

These are good things, but not all of these changes are good because, in some ways, adult friendships are also very weird.

You don’t see each other unless you actively organize to do so. You may go weeks or months without seeing the other person if your schedules are busy.

You may not have a common thread, like school or work, to keep you connected, and so you have to find and develop your own points of connection. If you don’t manage this then the friendship just sort of fizzles out.

In high school, I belonged to a group of friends, but now my friends are mostly spread out and separate from one another. I spend time with them one-on-one as opposed to in a group, which I prefer anyway as someone who’s pretty introverted.

Since entering the realm of young adult friendships, I’ve had no problem meeting people but a lot of difficulty with maintaining connections. People my age are so transient. We come and go without making too many commitments to each other because commitment isn’t always possible when you’re always coming and going.

Then there are ruptures, which can damage or end friendships. Ruptures are very common and can happen for a whole variety of reasons. It can be very hard to know how to repair ruptures, especially if they are only a symptom of a larger problem: an unhealthy relationship.

Friendships can be unhealthy. Friendships can be toxic. Friendships can be abusive. Sometimes we overlook these things because we don’t tend to expect them from our friends. We think of friendships as being relatively innocuous. We underestimate them. They can have far more profound effects on us and our lives than we usually give them credit for.

This year, I am learning more about what healthy friendships look like by learning about what unhealthy friendships look like.

Generally, they shouldn’t be stressful and demanding.

You shouldn’t feel like you need to walk on eggshells around a friend because any little thing could set them off.

You shouldn’t be putting their needs before your own in order to please them.

They shouldn’t act like they know you better than you know yourself. Your friends are not the authority on you, only you are.

If they become irritated with you all the time for no other reason than you simply existing, there’s a problem.

If they’re dismissive of the things you’re passionate about, the things that make you feel excited, there’s a problem.

If they take your friendship for granted, there’s a problem.

If you desperately need their support and they won’t give it, there’s a problem.

If their friendship and love are highly conditional on you being what they want you to be, there’s a problem.

If they’re having a relationship with their projection of you instead of you, there’s a problem.

No one is perfect. We’re all shitty friends sometimes, but when some of these things start to add up into an overall unhealthy relationship, it’s time to reevaluate that relationship.

As an adult, I feel like I have a lot more control over who I choose to spend my time with. None of my relationships are passive. I have to work to make them happen.

I believe in giving people second chances, opportunities to change, but I don’t believe in third, fourth, or fifth chances. I don’t believe in endless chances. At some point, you need to be able to recognize that your friend isn’t going to change.

You have a choice. Can you or can you not live with that?

I’m still making mine.

What Kind of Writer Do I Want to Be?

 

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[Image: aerial shot of a pad of paper, a pen, and a pair of glasses lined up on a wooden table]. Source: morguefile.com

 

I’m working on my second book. It’s a memoir. I decided I didn’t like the last one I wrote which was science fiction.

I write poems. I write scripts for videos. I write blog posts like this one here. I’ve considered freelance writing and even gotten a couple of pieces published, but don’t quite know how to get my foot in the door when it comes to paid work.

I’m still not sure what kind of writer I want to be.

Should I be a novelist or an essayist?

Should I work on poetry or short stories?

Am I better suited to fiction or creative non-fiction?

Maybe you’re thinking, “Hey, Sage, why not do all of those things?” I mean, I can. That’s what I have been doing until now. But at some point, I think I need to narrow in on my focus. Writing takes time, energy, and commitment. It’s not always the best practice to stretch oneself over half a dozen projects.

Also, getting oneself published requires a lot of research and work. If I want to be a freelancer, I need to sesh out publications and sending in pitches. If I want to be a novelist, I need to figure out whether or no to self-publish, and if I do choose to self-publish, go through all the steps of marketing and distributing my work.

I suppose the question isn’t so much about the kind of writer I want to be, as I am already many kinds, but about how I want to carve out my career as a writer. This is an especially pertinent question right now as I’m on the cusp of graduating university and trying to figure out the student afterlife.

I think it makes sense to try to develop an internet presence through my YouTube channel and this blog, but that’s not quite enough for me to write for a living. I also understand that expecting to make a living off of my writing is pretty huge and something I’ll have to spend a long time working on before it becomes even remotely feasible. That’s why I want to find my focus and start now.

I was on a train today. Trains are great places to think. I realized that I really want to publish a book and that, because I haven’t made a name for myself yet and am writing something sort of alternative, I should self-publish that book. I set a goal for myself. No matter how much or how little I’ve written by the end of the summer, I am going to take that material and begin revising for what will be a short memoir filled with poetry and prose. I’m just going to make it happen. It’s not going to be flawless or the most ultimate, amazing thing I’ll ever write, but it does not need to be those things in order to be worthy of publishing. I’ve written quite a bit of material that I didn’t feel confident enough to publish: a book of poetry, a science fiction novel, and countless shorter pieces. At some point, I need to start putting this stuff out there and refusing to let the idea that it’s not good enough get in the way.

That’s the kind of writer I want to be.

Welcome!

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[Sage, a white non-binary person with short red hair, tilts their head to the left and giving a small smile, wearing a black-and-yellow flower-patterned shirt, with their hair parted to the left and a paint splattered background].
Hello, I’m Sage, and I would like to welcome you to my new website!

I decided to create a domain using my internet handle rather than my full name for, like, job applications and other adult life stuff. I also wanted to start a fresh blog that is more incorporated in with my YouTube channel and all the other fun things I do online.

I have two goals for this site. The first is for it to be a place that connects the dots of all of the things I do around the internet. The second is to put out weekly blog posts on a range of different topics, from LGBT+ issues to book recommendations to personal updates. In a way, these blog posts will be the written correspondents to my videos. For example, I may write about my love of amateur photography on Monday and then make a video on Thursday about how awesome it is to be able to share that love with like-minded folks online.

So, if you prefer reading to watching videos, then this is the place for you. Or maybe you just want to know more about the Sage-things, and that’s cool too!

Speaking of the Sage-things, who the heck am I? And what do I do?

I’m a writer and a YouTuber. I make reflective videos over here about being a young person, school, feminism, identity, jobs, art, traveling and everything else that affects my life. In terms of writing, I’m currently working on a book as well as various smaller pieces here and there. I tend to write poetry, memoir, and short stories.

I’m non-binary and use they/them pronouns. I’m queer/bi/pansexual. I’m white, able-bodied, and deal with various mental health issues. I’m on the cusp of graduating with my undergrad from the University of Toronto. Bet you’ll never guess what I studied there (hint: it’s quite obvious).

I love being outside and in the nature. YA audiobooks are totally my jam and I am not ashamed to admit that I still read fanfiction. I prefer TV over movies. I hate cooking but don’t mind cleaning. I’m addicted to coffee but still don’t know how to make the perfect cup.

I make videos here. I tumbl here. You’ll find photos of nature and some quotes here. Frequent posts and updates reside over here. I write articles here sometimes. My adventures with books happen over here.  And I even utilize archaic technology here.

I’ll be adding some of my old pieces from my previous site to a separate page so they will not be gone from the web forever when I take that site down.

I want to make my internet presence as accessible as possible. If you have any questions or concerns about this site, please fill out my contact form or send a DM to @herbdinoohno on Twitter.

That’s all for now! Expect another post next Monday.